Changes – they are all about us, aren’t they! At the time of writing this article, I have just returned from a meeting of the ministerial group I am a part of. At today’s meeting one of our colleagues announced that she was going to be moving to St. Catharine’s, to serve a new congregation. I’m sure this is a positive move for her as she enters into a new and exciting ministry in a vibrant and active church. Like most changes however, there is a bitter sweet aspect to her move. For those of us gathered around the table we found ourselves saying goodbye to a well-liked and respected member of our group. No doubt someone will come along to take her place, both in her churches and in our group, but there was a real sense that although someone may indeed take her place they will not “replace her” for her openness, honesty, integrity and caring spirit were hers alone and the new person will, no doubt bring with them their own personality and their own unique gifts and blessings to share in the community and in our group.
As Donna and I are now in the midst of packing and preparing for our move to Dunnville, my mind is drawn regularly to the idea of change. We are both hoping that this move will be the last one for us for a very long time – moving and the change it precipitates can be both an invigorating and an exhausting experience. While we are both looking forward to getting settled in a small and familiar community where we know many people and see familiar faces at the grocery, hardware store and bank, we are also aware that many of the routines we have become familiar with over the last couple of years will now be changed and adapted to fit our new location and somewhat changed schedules. I am glad throughout all of this newness and change to have the warmth and sense of community that is so much a part of Hamilton Japanese United Church.
Having been a part of this community for some two and a half years now, there is a sense of rootedness setting in as we have developed strong and lasting bonds of mutual respect and support in our life and ministry together. Change is a fact in all of our lives and our spiritual lives are no exception. The faith that was begun in our hearts as children is quite different from the more mature faith that we now seek to nurture and embrace. Experience and the accumulation of wisdom and knowledge, as we journey through life, both shape and inform our spiritual selves. Neither is this a journey that we take alone, for our faith journey is a walk with God, as we experience the love, compassion, forgiveness and grace of the risen Christ in the faces, actions, and words of those we meet along the way. It is a journey of both heartache and sorrow and of wonder and joy, but most of all it is a journey into the very heart of love.
Over the last few months I have had the privilege of leading this year’s Confirmation Class – three truly special young people from among our congregation’s families. In a brief time I (with the generous assistance of Terri Brownlee) have sought to discuss so many aspects of our faith, our church and our beliefs. The reality is that we can only touch on most of these things, with the hope of further igniting the flames of God’s love that already dwell in their hearts. I guess it is something of a “sampler buffet” that we hope will both spark and encourage their relationship with God both today and in the years that lie ahead.
Much change lies ahead for these young folks – high school graduation, perhaps university or community college – relationships – family – a career. Indeed change is one of the few constants in our lives and yet it is with the love and support of our families, friends and a strong community of faith that we are able to weather the storms that we may encounter on the paths of our lives.
I pray that as we enter into the summer season, a time that will hopefully entail both some recreation and relaxation for us all, we may reflect on the changes that have occurred in our lives and find the place of peace where we can accept them and embrace them as we come to understand that they are all part of our journey – an adventure of faith, leading to the forgiveness and grace of God’s eternal love.